BNSF wants $60K for land along Fairfax, where city wants to put a bike/walking path

    For many years it's been a goal of city officials and community leaders to, as much as possible, link Crookston's system of recreational trails into one continuous network. And for many years, one of the biggest gaps in the system has been found on Crookston's southeast corner, along Fairfax Avenue.   

    On the surface, linking a new trail there to the path that leads to the Military Memorial at the corner of East Robert Street and Fairfax doesn't seem to be an insurmountable goal. But when one considers that the BNSF Railroad owns the necessary right-of-way that the City of Crookston would need to purchase in order to make a path along Fairfax a reality, making something happen becomes that much tougher.   

    Over the years, the city has off and on looked into what it would take to obtain the right-of-way, and over the years the city has backed off. But Ward 5 City Council Member Dale Stainbrook, who represents that area of the city, from time to time has asked the city to look into the matter again.   

    The council's Ways & Means Committee will discuss the matter again Monday evening. Interim City Administrator Pat Kelly, in a memo to committee members, states that he has obtained a purchase agreement from BNSF's land agent for the property in question and as of now BNSF, as it did the last time a purchase price was discussed in 2008, is sticking to its asking price of $60,000, plus a $2,000 processing fee.    

    Although Kelly is not asking the council to make a decision Monday, he is interested in knowing if the council wishes to continue its pursuit of the land, since the purchase agreement has a closing date of March 14, 2014.   

    So where would the council find the money? The city's Municipal Land & Buildings Fund, which has a healthy balance, would seem to be a likely source, but that remains to be seen.